California State University, Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) Japan Club taught the art of Japanese calligraphy, also known as shodo, at its second community event of the year last Friday. The open-workshop style allowed attendees to sit in and create their own pages and paper scrolls.
Shodo uses large animal hair brushes and ink to achieve its painterly effect. The art originated from Chinese calligraphers and typically enforces practices of Zen training. The most popular style to learn is kaisho, which holds more form than other styles, and thus, is easier to learn. Those in attendance were given kanji characters to copy with the goal of practicing kaisho.
“Shodo is more than writing,” said Japan Club Vice President and third-year Reece Lopez. “It’s the art of how to use a pencil, how to do this stroke order. It takes multiple years to master.”
The act of paying attention to on one’s brush strokes calls for focus most often found in meditation. “It’s a good way to relieve stress by using the brush,” said Lopez.
“Japanese culture is embodied by anime, and shodo’s not really something out there for people… I think having this kind of event educates people that Japan is more than pop culture,” said Lopez.
For many Japanese transfer students, the practice was familiar. “I [haven’t] had any opportunity to do this since I became a high school student,” said second-year Yuka Yoneyama.
Much like their previous origami event, Japan Club events aim to connect CSUMB to all aspects of Japanese culture. “It reminds me that I’m Japanese,” said Yoneyama.
Many of these transfer students exemplified the skill for those still learning. “I really like that the Japanese transfer students come to the events, because it’s really neat that you get to meet people that actually [have] experience,” said third-year Meghan Morrison.
Part of the appeal was the laxness. “I came out to this one because it’s really informal,” said Morrison.
Most importantly, the event honored Japanese culture. Japan Club meets on Fridays at 4 p.m. in Building 49. More fun and educational activities should be expected in the future.